GIRLS IN PANTS: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
Ann Brashares, Author . Delacorte $16.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385
Fans of the Traveling Pants series will be delighted to welcome back the four lifelong friends as they face their last summer together before separating for college. Though each girl has her own problems—and her own romance—to deal with, the quartet is there for each other, as are the magical pants that look good on them all (even if the pants themselves take a back seat in this installment). The author expertly splices together each friend's struggle with growing up: Bee's first love turns up as a fellow soccer coach at the summer camp where she is also coaching, Carmen's mother is expecting a new baby, Lena's father, as punishment for her sneaking off to an art class, will not pay for her education at Rhode Island art School of Design and Tibby is afraid when a longtime friendship turns into romance. Though readers new to the series may have trouble catching on to the back story, and a couple of plot points strain credibility (e.g., Tibby becomes Carmen's mother's last-minute labor coach), the girls are once again wonderfully drawn, with all their realistic faults. Readers will laugh as tough Carmen faces off with a police officer who stops her on her way to the hospital, and be touched when Lena draws a portrait of her recently widowed grandmother. Even in moments that edge toward melodrama (such as a parting shot of the four friends holding hands as they face the ocean surf), it's the girls' genuine love and tenderness that will win readers over and make them envious of the friends' strong bond. Ages 12-up.
Reviewed on: 12/20/2004